Class Act Repeal

Floor Speech

By:  Lindsey Graham
Date: Feb. 2, 2012
Location: Washington, DC

Mr. GRAHAM. Mr. President, the topic I wish to address is the CLASS Act repeal being taken up by the House. I understand the HHS Secretary has indicated that from her point of view the CLASS Act will not work, and this is music to my ears.

During the Obama health care debate, one of the revenue raisers was the CLASS Act wherein the Federal Government would be in the long-term health care insurance business and, supposedly, would collect premiums over a decade that would allow something like $80 billion in revenue that would help pay for Obama health care. However, eventually we would have to honor the payments due to the people on the program.

Senator Conrad from North Dakota called the CLASS Act a Ponzi scheme of the first order because what we would be doing under the program is collecting premiums for an insurance product and using the money to help pay for Obama health care. So when people are ready to get the services they have paid for, there would be no money in the program to pay them because it was used to offset Obama health care costs.

It is just not a practical idea. The costs would explode over time. There would be adverse selection. So it was an ill-conceived idea.

The House is going to repeal it. The HHS Secretary said they would not implement the program. I hope the Senate will allow repeal so we can take it off the table and it is a reason for the Congress to revisit the Affordable Health Care Act, Obama health care, because one of the components of the legislation relied upon the revenue to be collected by the CLASS Act to offset the cost of Obama health care, trying to make it deficit neutral. That is no longer a viable option. The money to be collected by the CLASS Act is never going to happen. So that money cannot be used to make the legislation deficit neutral.

This is a chance for the Senate, working with the House, to repeal the program. I think it would be wise for us all to sit down and try to reevaluate what does this mean in terms of the viability of the Affordable Health Care Act because the assumptions made by the CLASS Act are never going to come true.

I have been working with Senator Thune for a very long time to keep this program from coming about. I would like to say this is a bipartisan moment, where we have stopped a program that would have a devastating effect long term on the country's finances and would do very little to improve health care.

I wish to, one, congratulate the HHS Secretary for understanding this program is unsound. I would like to make sure it is repealed, and I think Congress should be the body to do that. But this is good news for the taxpayer. It is good news for the country as a whole that we are not going to allow a program to be created that is unsustainable, that is going to add to the debt and do very little to take care of our health care needs. It was a Ponzi scheme. It is a Ponzi scheme that needs to be buried politically, as soon as possible.

I look forward to taking up the House-passed legislation. I hope we can get bipartisan support in the Senate to make sure what HHS Secretary Sebelius said never happens, that the CLASS Act never becomes reality because it is an unsound, unwise, poorly constructed program, and this is a chance for the Senate to come together and do something about it with our House colleagues.

With that, I yield the floor and suggest the absence of a quorum.

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